Wealth, Poverty and Politics: An International Perspective by Thomas Sowell

wealth poverty and politicsWealth, Poverty and Politics: An International Perspective” by Thomas Sowell is a great read for deeper insight into what may cause inequality and how that may even be defined in the first place.

In plain English, Sowell discusses how wealth and income was distributed differently in times past. For example how ancient Rome far exceeded ancient Britain in any measurement at that time; and role reversals since then. He discussed how nations have differed over time and how people within any nation have also differed over time. In order to understand issues today, having insight from history is helpful – things have not always been the way they are now. And rather than just look at the U.S., he takes an international view as well.

Causes are often a more complex mix of demographic, geographic, cultural, social and political factors rather than simply just any one of them. For example, people living in the mountains tend to be poorer than those in the valley below – at any time in history. Should income and wealth be redistributed from the valley up into the mountain, and in what manner? He discusses the many other factors that affect the distribution of income and wealth globally and historically.

He explains that measure of income inequality more often is a mixing up of age cohorts in that the lower income group tend to be younger, at the start of their careers where income is lower, and the higher income group tend to be older, well into their careers. The measures also tend to ignore the tendency for specific people within either group to change which group they may be at any time as well. The young get older and earn more so they’re moving up through the statistics – but this is not captured in the way these statistics are gathered and compiled It is harder to compile statistics of age cohorts and so statistics used are from the easiest methods which have their flaws if proper conclusions are to be drawn. Wealth and income often get mixed together, yet here too with income, different ages are mixed and/or specific people may move into and out of groups.

Causation and definitions should be better understood before actions taken; actions which more often have an unexpected detrimental effect compared to their original intent. Full of facts and examples; a great read for a better and more complete understanding of wealth or poverty. If this area is a concern or interest of yours, I suggest you read this for a more complete understanding of many more of the factors and considerations involved.

An easy to read work that goes into explaining why inequality has always existed and probably always will. You may not agree with him – but you’ll go away with a deeper understanding of the issues. Very little is about politics once the many factors are better understood.

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2 Responses to Wealth, Poverty and Politics: An International Perspective by Thomas Sowell

  1. financial modelling May 1, 2016 at 2:38 pm #

    I quite like looking through a post that will make people think.

    Also, thank you for allowing for me to comment!

  2. Larry Frank, Sr. October 1, 2017 at 10:08 am #

    Another excellent book on the question of inequality is “The Upside of Inequality: How Good Intentions Undermine the Middle Class” by Edward Conard. Most people don’t understand that the more one tries to control outcomes, the more unintended consequences result.


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